Murray State made their last go-round the Ohio Valley Conference count as the Racers finished off an undefeated conference season with a 71-67 victory over defending tournament champion Morehead State.
Tevin Brown led Murray State with 23 points while Justice Hill added 21 and was named Tournament MVP. Jhoni Broome paced the Eagles with a career-high 32 points and eight rebounds.
"It was just a lot of hard work", Hill said. "I don't really mind not being looked at. I really just want to win. Knowing i've got two guys on the side of me (Williams and Brown) who can go for 30-plus points each night takes a lot of pressure off.
"It really allows me to go out and have performances like I did tonight."
The Racers outrebounded Morehead State 47-31, led by OVC Player of the Year KJ Williams, who had ten.
"My teammates put a lot of trust in me by allowing me to make plays for them", Broome said. But that's a good Racers team and it was a tough loss."
Story of the game
Murray State jumped out to an early 12-2 lead only to see Morehead State punch back by putting together an 18-2 run to take a six-point lead at 20-14.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Racers reserve guard DaQuan Smith tied it at 20 and he two combatants went back-and-forth to halftime as the score was tied 34-34 after 20 minutes.
The second half was just as close as neither team led by more than two possessions as Morehead State tied the game on four separate occasions but never were able to retake the lead.
Broome scored to make it a 61-60 game, but Murray State scored the next five points. Trailing 66-61, Tray Hollowell hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 66-64. He banked in another triple with eight seconds left to cut it to a one-point game at 68-67.
Brown made two free throws to make it 70-67 and after Ta'lon Cooper missed a pair, Williams was fouled, made one and the Racers were off to their 18th NCAA Tournament.
Following the game, Murray State head coach Matt McMahon spoke about the game itself while being complimentary to Morehead State.
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a better game than that in the next seven, eight days", he said. Lot of respect for Morehead State. Coach (Preston) Spradlin's done a terrific job building his program.
"These guys have done it all year. They find different ways to win."